Joanna Cherry: SNP members are furious about the way Kate Forbes has been treated
SNP MP Joanna Cherry says members of the party are “furious” at the treatment of leadership candidate Kate Forbes and the unwillingness of the current leadership to defend her.
Forbes lost the endorsement of a number of SNP ministers earlier this week after saying she would not have voted for same-sex marriage had she been an MSP when the legislation passed in 2014.
Cherry, who is supporting Ash Regan to be the next party leader, appealed to her party to move away from “identity politics”.
She said: “I don’t think Kate Forbes has ever suggested that she was going to impose her views on the rest of us by way of legislation. What has happened under the previous SNP leadership is a secular ideology – the idea that anyone can be a woman if they say they are – has been imposed on us via legislation. I want us to move away from identity politics and get onto tackling the bread and butter issues that voters care about.
“I’m a gay person and I have no problem with Kate Forbes. Kate Forbes has her private views…equal marriage is done and dusted, equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people is done and dusted – we have those protections under the Equality Act. Kate has never said she wants to roll them back. The public are sick to death of politicians virtue-signalling over identity politics.”
She added: “I was at a branch meeting last night and members are furious about the way Kate Forbes has been treated and they are furious about the failure of elder statespersons in the party and the leadership to speak up in her defence. I don’t think Kate answered the questions very well and I disagree with her views, but I’m really glad she’s still in the contest.”
Asked about reports that Humza Yousaf had missed the 2014 vote on equal marriage after arranging a ministerial meeting as “cover”, Cherry said that, if true, it would be “hypocritical” of the health secretary.
Former health secretary Alex Neil has claimed Yousaf arranged the meeting so that he could “skip” the key vote in the Scottish Parliament. Yousaf has flatly denied the claim, saying he missed the vote to meet the Pakistan consulate over the case of a Scottish citizen on death row.
Cherry said: “If Alex Neil is correctly representing the situation – and I don’t see why he wouldn’t – then Humza has been hypocritical. I’m a lesbian, I was delighted when equal marriage was passed. But I accept people’s right to have a conscience vote and I respect people who, like Kate Forbes, are honest about their position.”